Clinical Associate Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
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Time, data, and a list of faculty who participated in the project
This project was initiated on March 6, 2018, with Jennifer Pratt, Clinical Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) and Steven Willis, Professor in Art and Design. Ms. Pratt initiated the project with three goals in mind: 1. To provide a nonverbal avenue for adults with aphasia and other cognitive disorders from acquired brain injury to increase socialization and self-expression, 2. To emphasize the concept of “capability” versus “disability” in these adults when attempting participating in a new experience and 3. To provide a unique interdisciplinary/collaborative experience for CSD and Art students. The adult clients attend weekly communication group sessions at the MSU Speech and Hearing Clinic. The Tuesday group involves 5 individuals who require support (visual, technological, written) to communicate while the Thursday group involves 5 individuals who are conversational but experience difficulties with memory and word finding. Prior to initiating the actual art project, Dr. Willis arranged for Ms. Pratt to speak to several art classes in order to educate art students about aphasia and brain injury and to recruit willing art instructors. Two art students emerged as leaders as arranged dates to first observe clinical group sessions and then attend the group sessions and facilitate the art project.
Data discussed (student work, scores, a common question, etc.)
The question we have involves the following: “Does participating in a non-verbal activity enrich perceptions of social competence and increase perceptions of expressive ability?” particularly in those with communication impairment. Data involves tracking group member participation, group member product (art), and group member comments/self-report. Student comments have also been collected. Thus far, the two communication groups have completed at least one art project focused on self-identity. The art students designed a curriculum of sorts focused on how one can express self-identify through symbolism. Initial projects focused on pencil and crayon so as to not intimidate members with paint at first. The art students discussed use of the medium, color, symbolism, etc and the CSD students helped facilitate communication, expand discussions regarding the impact of art and encouraged group members to discuss their work. Members have been forthcoming regarding how they feel about participating and how they view their work. In the Tuesday group, one of the most communicatively impaired members was disengaged. Once prompted, we discovered she was CSD and art students (all 23 years of age or younger) have shared experiences, discovered commonalities and exchanged idea, all with genuine interest and absence of judgment.
The following are some excerpts from clinical documentation on the
days when the art project was the focus:
- Group members wrapped up this semester’s collaborative project with the MSU art education students. Each member completed an art piece that was reflective of their identity using various mediums (i.e., crayon, marker, colored pencil, collage). Upon completion of their portraits, members shared about their work and how it reflected aspects of their lives, personalities, dreams, desires, etc. Members used pointing, gestures, single words, and in some cases full sentences to share about their artwork.
- Completed his artwork from two weeks prior, adding various elements that reflected parts of his life and personality. Utilized an impressive amount of words while sharing about his artwork: “squirrel,” “BB gun,” “twenty-two” “chef,” “dead,” “tomato,” “potato,” “tree,” “bird,” etc.
- When asked to explain her artwork she said “bird” “flying off into the sunset”. When clinicians asked further questions she indicated this image was her flying free and said: “I don’t want to be like this anymore”. She also indicated that the bird represented religion, which is a large part of who she is.
- She talked about her connection with horses during grooming and created a lovely collage that symbolized walking with others and journeying through life.
- She was actively engaged in her art project, and created a collage that was filled with emotion, symbolism, and personal connection. She beautifully articulated the meaning behind each image and displayed more vulnerability and expression than in any previous session.
- As far as quantitative data, the art project was worked on for 3 sessions per group (a total of about 3.5 hours each); the art students were consistently in attendance as were the CSD students. Group member participation was consistently above 90% with members unable to participate only if absent with one exception on 3/27 with only 2/5 members present due to inclement weather.
Conclusions reached regarding the next steps for the project
This project is off to a positive start and will continue into the summer and fall 2018 semesters as we transition into the more challenging medium of paint and canvas. Supplies have been ordered and sessions will be scheduled once the summer semester is underway. Ms. Pratt will continue to supervise the sessions and document outcomes. Dr. Willis will be off campus but will be available via email. The project is planned to culminate in a showcase of the projects for group members, family and friends at Brick City sometime in November or December.
Items chosen by the faculty for action
- Order and inventory supplies
- Coordinate dates for art sessions
- Document outcomes, including surveying group member and students regarding their perceptions
Follow-up plans and action regarding the project
Please see above
Recommendation for items that need action at higher levels than the department